Sunday, December 15, 2013

Purpose in the Fumble


 "Do the next right thing."  Easier said then done, that is for sure. I know that getting up out of bed in a timely manner, going to work, eating and drinking to stay alive are "norms" that are certainly the "next right thing"; taking each day as it comes, with every ticking hour of the clock. But what about the gnawing feeling in the depths of my heart; that little invisible urgency that is telling me that there is something more, something undiscovered or currently not seen with the naked eye. In the New Testament Paul urges us to be "content in all circumstances"(Phil. 4:11-13). As Christians we are called to trust in the least thing shown; we are called to trust that if we seek Gods will for our lives, that is simply enough.

My humanity fumbles and wrestles with this concept.

As I find myself splitting my time between a retail job and a care taking position that looks to be quite temporary, I also find myself looking toward my future as a married woman and all the changes that that will bring. I lay my desires and needs on the altar of my Jesus, knowing that He knows me better than I know myself; believing that there is purpose and even beauty in this fumble.

Tonight at work I was simply doing the "next right thing", which just happened to be standing on my two feet despite severe exhaustion from the pre-Christmas shopping madness. A classy woman came in and bought a few boxes of Christmas cards, then hung around afterwards to ask me if this was my full time job. "No," I replied. "I am here part time and then I am a part time care taker, but much of this could change in the near future." She wrote down her name and phone number, and casually stated that she is always looking for people for her small business. I told her that I've been praying about the next step in my life, and that I would get back to her as soon as I could.

It was then that I was reminded how little control I have. I have no idea what awaits me when I call that phone number, but then again I had no idea that when my current boss and his wife went through my check out lane at Target that just a few weeks later I would be selling meaningful cards and gifts to connect people to other people.

I just simply don't know, and isn't that the point?

By not knowing, doesn't that give us the ability to trust God more deeply? When we throw up our hands in confusion, frustration or even anger, should that not be a relief that your ways are certainly not the best ways, and that He has a plan for your life much more incredible than what you could ever dream for yourself? You can let go. You can breathe. You can stop fighting for an answer that simply isn't to be at that point, or maybe ever.

There is purpose in the fumble. As we fumble, God gives us grace in our humanity. He designed us, so He is fully aware of our shortcomings. May we become so aware of this truth, so that we can remember that we can't do it all, nor are we supposed to.

If you are fumbling, may the grace of Jesus enable you to see the purpose and the beauty that is truly present in the not knowing.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hope


In the midst of a crazy, understaffed shift at work yesterday, I had a woman come to my register with four boxes of Christmas cards. At buy one, get one for half price this was a great deal that I had been constantly ringing up for guests at the store. By the time I was ringing up this particular purchase, one word literally jumped off the box of cards:

Hope.

At that particular moment I desperately needed that reminder. There is hope that I do not have to be subjected to myself. That in my humanity and sinful error I have hope that there is something beyond me and my limitations; something so much more powerful than our government, the feelings we feel when we don't measure up to an ideal, alcoholism, drug use, food and retail therapy.

Hope.

Hope for a crooked and depraved world of selfishness, greed, anger and belittling. Hope for a world of infertile couples, teenage mothers, and orphaned babies. For the sick, the dying, the sad, the "shoved in the corner" and left to be forgotten. 

All the ornaments, Santa Clause cookies, "Night Before Christmas" books, child Christmas traditions, hot department store sales and Bing Crosby Christmas music are plentiful....but is hope?

Why is it that hope is buried underneath these things, these things and so much more? We live for moments that give us hope and joy during this season, but as children of Christ, that moment felt is never ending.

Our baby Jesus hope...the Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Emmanuel. Our hope wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a feeding trough in a barn, because there was no room for hope in the world.

This Christmas season, may God enable you to make room for Him, make room for hope! This world, whether it realizes it or not, needs hope bearers shining like lights in pure darkness. 

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."-Romans 15:13


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Engaging Truths about Engagement


As I have been more engrossed in "wedding world" post my November engagement, I have noticed a shocking trend with engaged couples. Somewhere in the history of our world began the norm and the expectation for the engagement ring to be elaborate, expensive and "top of the line". In correlation with this trend, the price, size and appearance of the diamond instantly became connected to the "type" of man that that woman was engaged to, whether or not it put him in severe debt and/or took away from funds needed to start a life together.

I can't  think of a single woman who doesn't/wouldn't appreciate a beautiful, expensive engagement ring. It is in our blood to desire beauty, and desiring beauty is by no means wrong. However, I find that the amount of money and/or the size of the diamond is not anywhere in correlation with the proven love and commitment of the relationship.

Many, many years ago it was not uncommon for a young bride of 20 to have a simple gold band for an engagement ring. Over the years when times became less hard and more money was made and saved, there would be a "graduation" to a larger diamond and ring setting; perhaps for a 10 year anniversary. I remember the stories that past nursing home residents of mine would tell me. How their dress was just a simple frock that their mother made, because the war made it difficult to find special fabric. That for their honeymoon they went just two or three hours away and rented a hotel room by a pretty lake for just a few nights. Their wedding reception consisted of a two tiered white cake, coffee and ham sandwiches in the church basement. There were no white twinkle lights, satin table cloths, a D.J., elaborate bouquets and wedding registries.

As I wait in anticipation to become Mrs. Bolden, I am reminded of how this, my relationship with this man...this is only the beginning. I do not feel worthy to have a sparkly, 1/2 carat diamond ring, as our love and commitment to each other is young and small. It has yet to endure the tests and trials of married life. I do not want to ever give way to the cultural lie that states that I as a loved woman "deserves" to have such a piece of jewelry.

I don't "deserve" anything. That's right. I don't deserve a thing.

All that has been given to me is due to the graciousness and the goodness of God. All that I am....every good and struggling part of me, that is due to God as well. It is in this simplicity that I find truth. Simplicity found in the chaos of a world of Pinterest, Elle Magazine, and subtle messages delivered in various ways telling me what I need and what I deserve. Maybe it is the current reality that neither myself or my fiancĂ©e have any actual money that has helped influence this view point, but for that I am very grateful.

I have found that my lack of resources is directly connected with my ability to see the truth behind why I feel I need or deserve certain things. Marriage is not only a God given gift, but it is an opportunity. God didn't have to bless me with such an amazing man and the opportunity to be His partner and best friend for life; He chose to do this.

I am smiling as I look at my beautiful engagement ring on my left ring finger. It was a gift from Jeremy's granny; a ring that was given to her by a boyfriend of hers that loved the Lord with all his heart, and also loved granny with everything that he was. Granny met this man after her first husband died and planned to marry him, until he passed away unexpectedly.

Granny graciously gave us her engagement ring; she chose to give us her engagement ring. A lost love now viewed as a gain when she witnesses the love between her grandson and myself. Had I been in a Jewelry store I would have never, ever chosen the color ( yellow gold) or the setting of that ring. However, it is the most beautiful, meaningful gift I will probably ever own because of the love behind it. The simple, modest marquee solitaire diamond is exactly enough.

My engagement ring is a representation of my life in Christ. I can plan, dream and actively work towards a specific goal or vision for my life, but when I surrender my life and future marriage to Christ it is more beautiful, inspiring and meaningful in ways that I never could have pictured myself.  " In his heart a man plans his course but the Lord determines his steps."-Proverbs 16:9